Planning Packages are an earned value tool used to hold in-scope budget in the Earned Value Management System (EVMS) when the details of that work pages or packages are currently unknown.
This article looks at some basic rules regarding the use of planning packages within the EVMS.
First let’s go over some basic ground rules concerning Planning Packages and the frozen baseline period:
Planning Package Ground Rules
- The frozen baseline period is as at minimum the current month plus the next month. This means no changes are allowed to the baseline in this time period without customer approval. The EVM system description should define what the frozen baseline period is and define a “rolling wave” planning process.
- The “rolling wave” planning process defines when planning packages are required to be detailed planned into work packages. Typically, EVM system’s will require any planning package entering a 90 day “look ahead” period (current period plus 3 months looking forward) be detail planned by the CAM into work packages that can start anytime outside the frozen baseline. If all the scope/budget of a planning package will not be planned into work packages, that is OK, but the remaining scope/budget should be replanned into a time frame when the work is estimated to be performed, but it must be outside the 90 day planning window.
What can happen if these rules are not followed?
If these planning requirements exist in the EVMS System Description, and they are followed: you should never have a circumstance where “time now” has past the beginning of planning package and you “lose” the budget. Yes, you really can lose budget if you fail to detail plan a planning package prior to time now hitting its start date.
If that circumstance ever does occurs, then you should notify you customer, explain what happened and how it will never happen again, and get approval to plan out the planning package scope/budget into work packages in the appropriate time frame so they can earn value and collect actuals as the actual work is performed. Knowledgeable customers will agree to this, because they desire good plans, appropriate performance assessments, and “real” variances, not bogus performance data from improper planning and performance assessments.
The following is a preferred scenario:
When a contractor plans the PMB at program startup, they create the plan with work packages for all the near-term effort, work that begins immediately and work that begins typically at least 6 months into the future. They will typically use planning packages for the far-term effort (beyond the 6 months or longer) if the detail of the work is not available because designs may not be finished as an example.
Six months is only a guideline. Contractors are supposed to plan as far into the future as they believe they comfortably can, that could be 8 months, 10 months, etc. on some programs; and perhaps only 4-6 months on others. Or they may plan in work packages only up to key program milestones, e.g. PDR or CDR and put all post-milestone effort in planning packages. You of course should choose whatever makes good project management sense for your particular program.
As the program moves in time and “time now” approaches the scheduled start of a planning package, the CAM is required to begin detail planning the planning package into work packages. The planning package may actually represent scope and budget for 2 or more work packages, so the planning package may be fully planned into all those work packages; or one or two work packages may be planned and the remaining scope/budget in the planning package is typically planned in a further, future time period when the work is estimated to be performed.
This process ensures you always have work packages planned for the work being performed or at least was scheduled to be performed; and the planning packages are always beyond the 90 day rolling wave planning window, and certainly beyond the frozen baseline. There should never be a circumstance where “time now” passes the start of a planning package, unless there is no discipline in the EVMS by the CAM and the Project Controls administrators.
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